Cain's Segments: Small Luxury Sedans

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
cains segments small luxury sedans

Early on, recent reintroductions in the small luxury sports sedan segment have only had the slightest negative impact on the BMW 3-Series’ category-leading market share.

Viewing the segment narrowly, the 3-Series – sales of which now include the 4-Series, which BMW hasn’t chosen to isolate – saw its market share fall from 27.2% in September 2012 to 26.2% in September 2013.

Among the newest competition, the best-selling range comes from Infiniti. The G37-replacing Q50 combined with the model it replaced and the Q60 (formerly G37 coupe and convertible) for 4988 sales in September, a 36% increase. 844 of those sales came from the coupe, another 2367 from the new Q50 sedan.

Lexus has also recently replaced its 3-Series fighter. Sales of the IS jumped 42% in September. Lexus hasn’t sold more than 30,000 copies of the IS since 2010, not more than 40,000 since 2008, not more than 50,000 since 2007.

The Cadillac ATS has now been around for thirteen months, and September marked the second time this year – the first time since January – that GM sold fewer than 2900 in a single month.

Volvo’s S60, which lacks for the time being a wagon partner, suffered a slight volume decline in September but is, in fact, selling more often this year than last. That’s notable in a Volvo lineup that’s collectively down 7% this year. Sales of the XC90, a very old design, are down 29%. S80 sales are off by 47%. The departing C30 is down 42%, XC70 sales are down 9%, and the C70 convertible is down 32%, a loss of 1191 units. The S60 will top 20,000 units in 2013 for the third consecutive year after falling below 9000 units in each of the previous three years. Volvo USA last sold more than 30,000 S60s in 2003.

Acura has not sold more than 2000 TSX sedans and wagons in a single month in 2013. Since the cheaper ILX went on sale in May 2012, only twice has Acura reported a year-over-year increase in TSX volume: in May 2012, and then one month later, in June 2012. Nearly 12% of the TSXs Acura has sold this year are wagons. TSX Sport Wagon sales are down 46% to 1632 units through the first nine months of 2013.

Speaking of wagons, Audi’s A4 Allroad, which took over from the A4 Avant, sold more than three times as often as the TSX Sport Wagon in September. With 4121 sales so far this year, the Allroad attracts 13% of Audi’s A4 volume. Audi has also sold 14,488 A5 coupes and convertibles in 2013, an 11% increase. The sales figures you see here for BMW, Infiniti, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz take two-door models into account.

Mercedes-Benz no longer markets a C-Class wagon to compete with the 3-Series Touring, the TSX Sport Wagon, upcoming V60, or Audi’s Allroad. But the sedan and coupe do succeed to the extent that the C-Class is the only car capable of entering a conversation regarding the 3-Series’ market dominance. Through nine months, the C-Class, which now must fend off potential cannibalization from the lower-priced CLA250, came within 3160 units of outselling the next two-best-selling models in the category, the Infiniti and Audi.

Not every buyer who wants a car they perceive to be a sporty, sub-$40Kish sedan is forced to choose from among these eight cars. Acura TL sales are down 26% to 19,762 this year; down 66% to 1102 units in September. Cadillac CTS volume is down 37% to 24,410 units this year and fell 22% to 2408 in September. Meanwhile, the Acura ILX, Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, Buick Verano, Lexus CT200h, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Volkswagen CC, and Volvo C30 combined for 85,033 sales over the last nine months, up 10%. 43% of those sales are made up by the Buick.


AutoSeptember 2013September 2012September % Change9 mos. 20139 mos. 2012YTD % ChangeAcura TSX12941681– 23.0%14,18323,378– 39.3%Audi A4 & Allroad38133035+ 25.6%31,11328,230+ 10.2%BMW 3-Series & 4-Series85127731+ 10.1%77,92168,352+ 14.0%Cadillac ATS2739611+ 348%28,207611+ 4517%Infiniti G, Q50 & Q6049883677+ 35.7%39,00346,052– 15.3%Lexus IS32012248+ 42.4%22,06021,107+ 4.5%Mercedes-Benz C-Class63897872– 18.8%66,59657,740+ 15.3%Volvo S6015451577– 2.0%18,73217,993+ 4.1%—— —————Total32,481 28,432 + 14.2% 297,815 263,463 + 13.0%
Join the conversation
3 of 60 comments
  • APaGttH APaGttH on Oct 04, 2013

    ...Meanwhile, the Acura ILX, Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, Buick Verano, Lexus CT200h, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Volkswagen CC, and Volvo C30 combined for 85,033 sales over the last nine months, up 10%. 43% of those sales are made up by the Buick... Holy ass crackers, the Verano appears to own the near-luxury small car segment at 43% of all vehicles. As the CLA rolls out will be interested to see the stats change.

    • Bball40dtw Bball40dtw on Oct 04, 2013

      Norm is most pleased. I will say that it is a good little sedan. I like the Regal GS as well. The rest of the Buick lineup is automotive Ambien though.

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Oct 05, 2013

    Wait. Something has been left out. Where's the Lincoln entry in this category?

  • Ltcmgm78 I think cars need an AM/FM radio for emergency notifications. Driving at night, I will scan the AM frequency just to see what comes up and to be amazed at the different cities I can get after dark. My SAAB had a Euro-spec radio and I could get long-wave (lower freq than the AM band) and found lots of interesting listening.
  • Golden2husky You'd be way better off in a base Vette for that money.
  • Gene Sedans and coupes don't sell in the quantity that they used to but they still make up a significant market. Why Ford abandoned this segment still baffles me. Again, just look at Toyota, Dodge, Mercedes, BMW, Hyundai, etc who have not abandoned this segment.
  • JMII Cracker Barrel - there is one off every major interstate interchange east of the Mississippi.I don't drink coffee - and based on the constant debate / worry of others just drinking water or tea has greatly simplified my life.Regardless of your choice in snacks and drinks I recommend the iExit app: it shows what hotels, restaurants and gas stations are coming up so you can decide if its worth pulling off.
  • Redapple2 My dad s buddy got a tire thru the windshield. DRT -dead right there.